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New York Mets: Three predictions for Brandon Nimmo in 2020

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 03: Brandon Nimmo #9 of the New York Mets celebrates his three run homerun to take a 4-1 lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers during the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium on September 3, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 03: Brandon Nimmo #9 of the New York Mets celebrates his three run homerun to take a 4-1 lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers during the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium on September 3, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 24: Brandon Nimmo #9 of the New York Mets celebrates after he was walked with the bases loaded to score the game winning run in the 11th inning against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field on September 24, 2019 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.The New York Mets defeated the Miami Marlins 5-4 in 11 innings. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Many New York Mets fans have some high expectations for Brandon Nimmo in 2020. This is what I’m predicting we see from the happiest man in baseball.

After his breakout 2018 season in which he made the top 10 in several NL categories, New York Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo was set back by injuries in 2019. Nimmo went on the IL in May with a bulging disk in his neck and did not start another game until September 2, 2019, against the Nationals.

However, Nimmo was a sparkplug in the lineup as soon as he returned. In September, Nimmo consistently led off and posted a .261 batting average, .430 OBP, and .565 slugging percentage. He also walked 20 times in 93 plate appearances, which nearly exceeded his 23 strikeouts in that same time span. Perhaps Nimmo’s most glorious moment was his walk-off walk on September 24, which kept the Mets’ playoff chances alive for another day.

With these two distinct storylines to his 2019 season, what will Nimmo bring to the plate in 2020? Assuming he remains healthy for the majority of the season, here’s what I predict he will do for the Mets next year.

20/20 for Nimmo in 2020

Since the Mets have yet to acquire another center fielder as of mid-January, it seems like Nimmo will be starting most games for the Mets next season. Though the Mets have several viable lead-off candidates, including Amed Rosario and Jeff McNeil, Nimmo is the “best of both players” in this department because he can run fast, is generally a smart baserunner, and consistently gets on base at a near .400 clip.

With his speed and high OBP, it will be a logical progression for Nimmo to become a more prolific base stealer next season. Though he only has 14 stolen bases in his career to date, the Mets as a team have not emphasized base stealing at all over the past few years. This lack of stolen bases may simply be a product of his surroundings.

If Nimmo can continue to show discipline at the plate and intelligence on the basepaths, I am confident that he can evolve into a greater base-stealing threat next year. This would set him up well to bat in front of hitting machine Jeff McNeil, who seems to slot naturally into the two-hole with this arrangement.

In addition to a trained eye, Nimmo also has pop in his bat. In just 199 at-bats last year, he hit eight home runs. In 2018, he hit 17 homers in 433 at-bats, putting him well on pace for 20 home runs in a full season. Nimmo may be patient at the plate, but he also has a penchant for not missing his pitches to hit. If he’s leading off and the opposing pitcher is hesitant to pitch around him with the likes of McNeil, Alonso, and Conforto coming up, expect Nimmo to launch enough leadoff home runs next year to lead him to his first 20/20 season.

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